Having an outdoor living space is a dream for many homeowners. However, designing and building a patio can be expensive, especially if you have a small yard. Fortunately, plenty of ways exist to create a lovely small patio on a budget.
With a little creativity and smart shopping, you can refresh your outdoor area without breaking the bank.
Here are 22 budget-friendly small patio ideas on a budget to inspire your next outdoor project.
1. Utilize Second Hand Materials
One of the best ways to save money on your patio project is to use salvaged or repurposed materials whenever possible.
Check out antique stores, garage sales, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace for great deals on patio materials like pavers, concrete blocks, old bricks, and wooden benches.
If you have any dismantled fences, or old decking materials, reuse and re-imagine them as a charming ground cover for your new space.
Salvaged shutters or doors also make great sandbox coverings or create privacy on fencing. With some creativity, you can give second hand materials fresh life in your new outdoor space.
2. Create a Gravel Patio
For an inexpensive, low-maintenance base, opt for a simple gravel patio. Choose an attractive material like pea gravel, crushed stone, or decomposed granite in a natural hue.
Decide on the shape and area for your gravel patio and lay down landscape fabric to block weeds. Cover the fabric with at least 4 inches of gravel and tamp down to create a flat, even surface.
Add interest by including patterns or shapes using different colors and sizes of gravel. Surround the gravel with recycled bricks or stones. Top with outdoor furniture like all-weather woven chairs, and your new patio is ready to enjoy!
3. Paint Concrete for Instant Curb Appeal
If your backyard currently has a plain concrete slab patio, paint is an affordable option to give it some personality.
After cleaning and priming the concrete, use exterior masonry paint in your choice of colors to create a fun pattern, like stripes, blocks, or radiating circles. For a textured look, add play sand to the paint or create your own faux flagstone pattern with painters tape.
For extra interest, embed inexpensive mosaic tiles or marbles in wet paint. Then apply a sealant so your creation will last. New patio furniture and decorative accents will finish your freshly painted patio with style.
4. Use Stencils on Concrete
Another easy upgrade for plain concrete is using stencils to add customizable patterns. Stone, brick, tile, wood, and geometric are popular options.
After thoroughly cleaning the slab, apply the temporary stencil, tape it down, and use an exterior concrete paint in your desired shade. Remove the stencil, let the paint dry fully, add a sealant if desired, and enjoy your stylish new concrete patio.
You can also get creative and mix and match patterns by using multiple stencil shapes and colors. This is an inexpensive way to mimic expensive paving materials – but with your own custom design!
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5. Install Deck Tiles
For a budget-friendly and easy backyard upgrade, consider using deck tiles. These interlocking composite or plastic tiles come in wood, stone, and other faux finishes.
Lay the tiles over any flat surface – concrete, dirt, grass, gravel – without needing to prep the underlying ground. The tiles connect easily without tools, are comfortable underfoot, and you can remove or rearrange them later if needed.
Choose a simple one-color tile or get creative with multiple colors and patterns. Pair with outdoor rugs, patio furniture and lighting, and potted plants to complete your new tiled outdoor living space in a weekend. The tiles provide permeable, low-maintenance, affordable backyard style.
6. Upcycle Items into Planters
Gardening is an easy way to add color, texture, and personality to your patio on a budget. Instead of buying expensive containers and planters, repurpose everyday items you already have at home.
Old buckets, watering cans, crates, boxes, tires, and pots can all be transformed into unique planters and arranging them creatively doubles as patio decoration. If needed, drill drainage holes in the bottom of repurposed containers.
Then fill with potting soil and your choice of flowers, succulents, herbs, or veggies. If you opt for lightweight planters, use Velcro to secure them together or to your wall or railing so they don’t blow over in windy weather.
Let your imagination run wild – your DIY planters will become charming, functional focal points.
7. Create Flower Bed Borders
Frame garden beds and divide spaces using materials you already have – think bricks, logs, large stones, cinder blocks, old tins, or repurposed wood. Stack and arrange them into natural looking borders and edging.
For example, surround a small flower bed with chunks of flagstone found in your backyard. Use whole logs as garden borders to define sitting spaces or pathways. Salvaged wood can also become low retaining walls.
Not only do these materials corral and contain soil and mulch, keeping it tidy and blocking weeds, they instantly add visual interest and a finished look to garden beds without buying anything new.
8. Install an Outdoor Mat
Sometimes the simplest patio upgrade can make the biggest impact. Adding an outdoor-friendly area rug or mat creates an inviting, finished look. It also defines spaces on your patio – under furniture groupings, in entryways, or just a cozy lounging spot.
When choosing an outdoor mat, look for tightly woven, durable, mold/mildew-resistant fabrics like polypropylene, recycled cotton, jute, or PVC-backed materials. Measure the area where you want to place your mat and shop for a slightly larger size.
When positioning your mat, allow enough space around the edges so it doesn’t get caught on surrounding furniture when shifted by wind or foot traffic. then stand back and enjoy your newly defined patio space!
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9. Display Wall Art Outside
Don’t stop your home decor at the back door – extend your personal style onto your patio with wall art and accessories. Outdoor wall art options include mosaic frames, mirrors, sconces, wire art, metal/wood hangings, canvases, and prints suited for outdoor display.
Check thrift stores and yard sales for budget artwork finds to upcycle. Use weather-resistant tape, hooks, or mounting putty/strips to display your pieces on exterior walls, fences, or posts.
This allows you to create an art gallery feel on your patio for a fraction of the price of buying new. Switch out pieces seasonally if desired. Finishing touches like colorful cushions, candles, and greenery complement your newly curated outdoor aesthetic.
10. Create a Backyard Movie Screen
For the ultimate budget drive-in experience, project movies onto an outdoor wall or sheet. With a projector, laptop or tablet, extension cord, and makeshift screen, you can set up an outdoor theater instantly.
Use a white painter’s canvas drop cloth, or simply hang up white sheets secured with binder clips and dowels. To prevent glare, play movies after the sun sets. Place your projector on a table and point it at your screen, allowing at least 12 feet between them.
Surround your viewing area with chairs and tables, string up backyard lights, and enjoy the show. For audio, use external speakers or stream through Bluetooth. Outdoor movie nights with homemade popcorn make for lasting summer memories.
11. Install String Lights Overhead
Lighting instantly makes a patio more inviting after dark and creates a magical ambiance. But wiring permanent fixtures can be expensive and require professional installation. For a budget solution, hang string lights overhead instead.
Use hooks, clips, or removable mounting putty to add rows of strung Edison bulbs, globe lights, or paper lanterns to your pergola, eaves, rafters, trees, or posts. Choose a lighting color to complement your space – warm white, multicolor, frosted, or clear bulbs.
Weave them through tree branches, back and forth across patio beams, or in zig-zag patterns along your fence line. Plug them into a weatherproof outlet, and enjoy the twinkly glow all season long.
12. Create a Fire Pit Area
Gathering around a fire pit extends your enjoyment of your patio into the evening. Pre-fab fire pits can be pricey, so instead make your own DIY version on a budget.
If you have an existing gas hookup, convert it to a fire table by placing a metal table top over the gas line, filled in with fire glass or lava rock. For wood burning, use brick, stone or pavers to form a round or square shape, at least 3 feet wide.
Line it with fire brick or granite and fill with non-flammable crushed stone. Place it at least 10 feet from structures. Then cozy up on weatherproof benches and chairs around your new fire pit. For ambiance, incorporate solar-powered lighting and even an outdoor rug for luxury.
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13. Display Flowers in Paint Cans
Mason jars and pots aren’t the only vessels that can hold patio flowers and greenery. For an unexpected planter, try using empty paint cans! Make sure to clean thoroughly and remove any remaining paint residue before planting.
Then simply fill gallon or quart-sized cans with potting mix and add your favorite annuals or blooming perennials. Opt for plants like petunias, marigolds, begonias, impatiens, and geraniums that will cascade over the sides.
Place the painted planters on the wall edges of a balcony, on the steps of a deck, next to benches, or in other unexpected places. The metal paint adds a rustic-industrial vibe and can be spray painted in any color to match your decor.
14. Make a Pallet Coffee Table
Pallet projects require minimal supplies to create instant backyard furniture, like a handy coffee table. All you need is a standard wooden shipping pallet along with pallet slats, screws, and staples for assembly.
Use a power sander or hand tools to smooth down any rough edges and prepare the wood. Arrange desired slats spaced evenly across the top opening. Attach using construction adhesive, screws from underneath, and/or staples on the side covers.
Sand, seal or paint the table in a color coordinating with your patio scheme. Add casters to the legs for a rolling version. Top with a tempered glass cut to size and attached with clear silicone for a finished look. Then accessorize your new pallet coffee table with drinks, books, and decor.
15. Create Seating from Stock Tank Pools
Metal stock/watering tanks have a natural rustic vibe perfect for patio decor. These inexpensive, galvanized tanks come in many sizes and readily convert into unique seating options.
For a round sofa, cut one tank horizontally and place two halves end to end, connecting with metal straps or bolts underneath. Or use two halves to form an L-shaped sectional.
Place the curved side in, fill with cushions, and you have the coolest patio seating of all your friends.
For a more upright armchair, enclose the tank bottom and add side arms and a back constructed from wood. Then throw in a pillow and you’ve got a conversation-worthy piece complete with funky industrial style.
16. Make a Pallet Planter Box
For a useful potting bench or planter box, arrange wooden pallets vertically to form three sides of a square. Secure in place with L-brackets in the corners and underneath. Then screw reclaimed wood or pallet slats horizontally along the interior to frame-in planting sections.
Finish by lining with landscaping fabric to prevent soil from leaking out. Then fill the open chambers with potting mix and your choice of small veggies, herbs or flowering annuals.
The planted pallet planter adds color as well as convenience – keeping gardening tools and supplies organized while being close-by for care and harvesting. Place it along a sunny fence or wall or use it as a room divider for a multifunctional touch.
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17. Hang Bicycle Baskets for Flowers
If you’ve got extra metal bicycle baskets collecting dust in your garage, give them a new purpose adorning your patio. These vintage-style metal baskets are perfect for displaying cascading flowers and foliage. Attach them to fences, posts, or walls at varying heights.
Screw in metal hooks, brackets, or S-hooks to securely display your baskets. Then simply fill with potting mix, 3-4 trailing plants, and regular watering care. Their round shape and slender hanging design allow bike baskets to fit in narrow spots.
Choosing different colored blooms for each basket results in a stunning vertical flower wall. As an added benefit, you can take them down for easy watering and cold-season storage.
18. Craft Concrete Branch Planters
This living sculpture project involves casting real tree branches and twigs inside cylindrical concrete planters. Start by spray painting sticks and branches white or grey. Then prepare a mold by duct taping sticks together into a column shape.
Insert the branch column into a cardboard tube mold standing upright. Mix concrete and pour around the branches, being sure they are encased within the concrete. Allow to fully cure before removing the cardboard mold.
Then place the cube-shaped concrete planters on the patio to display their intriguing silhouettes. The realistic embedded branches make eye-catching stand-alone sculptures. Fill the top with potting mix and flowers for an unexpected living art fusion.
19. Display Found Object Wind Chimes
Wind chimes add peaceful ambiance to any patio. But buying them new can get pricey. Instead, create your own one-of-a-kind wind chime using objects found around your home and yard.
Gather an assortment of interesting shapes, sizes, colors, and textures, like seashells, smooth stones, glass bottles, marbles, bells, washers, silverware, beads, and clusters of small pinecones.
Use wire, string, fishing line, or twine to suspend and assemble found objects from a wood base, achieving a balance of shapes and sounds. Hang in a breezy spot and let your DIY wind chime sing! The eclectic materials combine to form a personal work of reuse art.
20. Make a Mosaic Stepping Stone Pathway
Mosaic stepping stones are perfect little DIY projects to create a pathway to your patio. Start with concrete stepping stone molds, but any baking pans or containers will also work for smaller pavers.
Break ceramic plates, tile, glass, mirror into 1-inch irregular pieces to use as your mosaic materials. Wearing gloves, arrange shards in concrete molds, filling in gaps as needed. Mix and pour concrete over the mosaic pieces.
Once semi-dry, push shards down to fully adhere in the concrete. Allow proper concrete curing time before removing molds. Place in your garden to form a whimsical mosaic stepping stone pathway leading to your patio refuge.
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21. Paint and Decorate Clay Pots
Plain terra cotta pots are an inexpensive patio necessity ready for a budget makeover. With acrylic craft paint in any color imaginable, you can easily transform dull clay pots into cheerful, stylish planters. Start with a base coat in your chosen hue.
Then get creative adding patterns – stripes, dots, geometric shapes, or color blocking with white – using painters tape to create clean lines and edges. Or use a reverse-stenciling method by painting over scrapbook paper or doilies adhered to the pot.
Allow the paint to fully cure before planting, then arrange en masse for vibrant garden appeal. Due to their smaller size, clay pots are easy to move indoors for the winter.
22. Make Decorative Garden Stakes
Add artful interest to your patio garden beds and containers with handmade garden stakes. All you need is wooden garden stakes, paint, and imagination! Paint stripes, dots, shapes, and patterns directly on tall wood stakes.
Or first glue on materials like fabric scraps, tissue paper, lace, washers, buttons, or even an old silverware fork. Then use exterior gloss spray paint to seal and protect your creation. Place in flower beds and planters throughout your patio area.
The one-of-a-kind stakes become colorful garden sculptures that make a statement rising up from your plant arrangements. It’s a fun afternoon craft project that adds artistic personality for free.
There you have it – 22 budget-friendly small patio ideas on a budget to refresh and beautify your outdoor living area! With DIY projects, secondhand scores, and creative reuse of everyday items, you can transform your space without breaking the bank.
Start with a single project, then gradually expand to give your entire patio an upgrade. By implementing these smart, affordable ideas, soon you’ll have a welcoming new outdoor room ready to enjoy all season long.
Q: What are some cheap patio flooring ideas?
A: Some budget-friendly patio flooring options include gravel, concrete painting/stenciling, deck tiles, and repurposed materials like bricks, pavers, or stones.
Q: How can I decorate my patio cheaply?
A: Cheap patio decor ideas include repurposed items as planters, DIY wall art from thrift store finds, string lights overhead, and handmade garden stakes or wind chimes.
Q: What can I use instead of patio furniture?
A: If you don’t want to buy patio furniture, make your own from pallets to create benches, tables, or planter boxes. You can also repurpose items like wooden crates, tree stumps, or metal wash tubs as seating.
Q: Should I build a patio fire pit?
A: Building your own fire pit is much cheaper than buying a pre-made one. Use bricks, stones, or concrete blocks arranged into a pit on a gravel base. Add a metal fire ring or grate and decorative rocks.
Q: How do I decorate a small patio?
A: Maximize a small patio by utilizing vertical spaces with hanging planters and wall art. Multifunctional furniture like storage ottomans and foldable bistro sets save space. Bold colors, patterns, and greenery also make a small patio feel lush.